Taiwan’s top-ranked men’s badminton doubles team overcame the 2016 Rio Olympic silver medal winners to take the title at the Yonex Thailand Open in Bangkok yesterday.
The world No. 7 Taiwanese pair of Lee Yang (李洋) and Wang Chi-lin (王齊麟) outlasted Tan Wee Kiong (陳蔚強) and Goh V Shem (吳蔚昇) of Malaysia (No. 14) 21-16, 21-23, 21-19 in a match they could have closed out earlier and nearly let slip at the end.
They became the first Taiwanese men’s doubles team to win a HSBC BWF World Tour Super 1000 event title, the highest-tiered event other than the World Championships and Olympic Games.
Photo: AFP/Badminton Association of Thailand
“Winning today was great, because we’ve played as a pair since 2019, so it’s just two years, so it’s good for us,” Lee was quoted as saying on the Badminton World Federation Web site.
“We now have more power, better defense, and more skill. We want to keep going,” he said.
The Taiwanese had won their two previous encounters against the Malaysian duo, including during the finals at the Gwangju Korea Masters in November 2019, and it appeared they would clinch their third win in two straight games.
After winning the first game 21-16, Lee and Wang held a steady lead in the second, and had two match points at 20-18, but the Malaysians rallied to even the match.
Lee and Wang then built a 19-13 lead in the third, but were only able to clinch victory after the Malaysians put them on edge by whittling down their lead to 20-19.
The pair won a prize of US$74,000.
The other Taiwanese playing in a final yesterday, world No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying (戴資穎), suffered a one-sided defeat in the women’s singles title match against 2016 Rio Olympic gold medalist Carolina Marin of Spain.
They last met in the semi-finals at the Yonex All England Open in March last year, which Tai won on her way to the title.
However, this time, Marin clearly had the upper hand, sweeping to a relatively easy 21-9, 21-16 win.
Marin was easily the strongest opponent Tai faced in the tournament — her first international badminton event since March last year — and she struggled to get any traction in the match.
Afterward, she said that Marin’s fast pace of play and attacking style put her under a lot of pressure, but added she was not at her best physically and could not fight back.
“I did not feel well enough to put in my best effort. I tried my best,” she said on Facebook after the match.
In events not involving Taiwanese, Thailand’s Sapsiree Taerattanachai and Dechapol Puavaranukroh beat Praveen Jordan and Indonesia’s Melati Daeva Oktavianti 21-3, 20-22, 21-18 in the mixed doubles final.
Thailand and Indonesia also faced off in the women’s doubles, with the visiting team of Apriyani Rahayu and Greysia Polii overpowering Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai 21-15, 21-12.
In the men’s singles final, world No. 4 Viktor Axelsen of Denmark beat world No. 8 Angus Ng Ka-long (伍家朗) of Hong Kong 21-14, 21-14.
Ng had previously knocked out two Taiwanese in the draw, Wang Tzu-wei (王子維) in the round of 16 and world No. 2 Chou Tien-chen (周天成) in the semi-finals.
The Thai capital would next host the Toyota Thailand Open from Tuesday and later the rescheduled HSBC BWF World Tour Finals from Wednesday next week to Jan. 31.
The Taiwanese players are scheduled to stay in Bangkok for those two tournaments, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, China and Japan have pulled out.
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